Loeb closing on Cyprus victory

Sebastien Loeb is closing on his 50th victory in the World Rally Championship, holding a 44-second lead with just two stages to go in Cyprus

Loeb closing on Cyprus victory

Although the final day features only three stages, the Foini and Anadiou tests are 30 and 40 kilometres long respectively, meaning that Citroen driver Loeb could take nothing for granted going into the leg.

Mikko Hirvonen had reduced Loeb's lead to 49s yesterday afternoon, but was only able to close by 5s on the damp Foini stage.

"It's something but I think if it had been even more wet I could have taken some more out of him," said the Ford number one. "But it was just damp so I couldn't do much.

"There's still a long stage to go so if I keep the rhythm I have we'll see if something happens and I can get closer."

The battle for third remains alive, as Petter Solberg (Solberg Citroen) trimmed a further 2.7s from works Citroen driver Dani Sordo's advantage on SS12 - although it could have been much more had Solberg not lost time struggling to engage gears at a junction. The gap between them is now 13.2s with 51 competitive kilometres remaining.

Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson and Citroen Junior's Sebastien Ogier are still fighting for fifth, with Ogier halving Wilson's half-minute lead through Foini, despite an error.

"I tried to push but I stalled and lost six or seven seconds, but it's still possible," said Ogier. "We will try but Matthew is not so bad this weekend."

Ogier's team-mate Evgeny Novikov went off and retired on SS12, moving the third Junior car of Conrad Rautenbach up to seventh and elevating Munchi's Ford's Federico Villagra into a points-scoring position.

Armindo Araujo is keeping Patrik Sandell at bay in their Production class contest, the Mitsubishi driver extending his lead by 0.1s through Foini, although both were again out-paced by Nasser Al-Attiyah, who is now within 53.5s of Araujo.

Martin Prokop remains on course for a comfortable Junior WRC victory, ahead of Michal Kosciuszko.

Leading positions after SS12:

Pos Driver Car Time 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 4h00:08.3 2. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 44.0 3. Dani Sordo Citroen + 1:37.5 4. Petter Solberg Citroen + 1:50.7 5. Matthew Wilson Ford + 6:05.5 6. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 6:20.6 7. Conrad Rautenbach Citroen + 8:36.7 8. Federico Villagra Ford + 10:23.4 9. Khalid Al Qassimi Ford + 11:03.9 10. Armindo Araujo Mitsubishi + 15:58.4 
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Loeb claims 50th WRC win in Cyprus

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